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Equifax nears US$700m settlement of probes into data breach

[WASHINGTON] Equifax Inc is poised to reach a roughly US$700 million deal to settle investigations into its massive data breach, in line with what the credit-reporting company previously set aside for the incident, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The agreement with authorities including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general may be announced as soon as Monday, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential talks. Spokesmen for the company and FTC declined to comment. The deal would also resolve a complaint from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Dow Jones said in a report earlier on Friday.

The agreement resolves almost two years of investigations into the massive breach that compromised some of the most sensitive information of about half the US population. Disclosed in September 2017, it sparked outcries on Capitol Hill and among consumer advocates for more oversight of the three big credit-rating companies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian Plc. At the time, Equifax's stock lost more than a third of its value within days.

Chief executive officer Mark Begor told analysts in May that a first-quarter charge of US$690 million was tied to "outstanding litigation and potential fines" from the incident.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have failed to act since the hack. At a hearing in February, Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee criticised the industry, as chairwoman Maxine Waters promised to tighten regulation.